The Petersham is a 4-Star stunner with the best views of the River Thames, which winds below past idyllic pastures. The hotel is on Nightingale Lane which once had a Nightingale Cottage. In 1863, the cottage was acquired by the Richmond Hill Hotel Company. They employed John Giles as the architect to build something remarkable – he had just designed London’s Langham Hotel in Portland Place, so he already had impeccable credentials. The new hotel was completed in 1865.
The architectural style was described as ‘florid Italian Gothic’. The plans in a sale brochure of 1866 show plenty of bedrooms and a number of separate ‘sitting rooms’ as well as several suites. Lots of loo’s are mentioned but only a couple of bathrooms! Were they the good old days?
The most notable feature of the interior is the magnificent Portland stone staircase, reported to be the tallest unsupported stone staircase in the country. Look up and you’ll notice the paintings on its ceiling, which were executed by the Victorian artist Ferdinando Galli.
The hotel had various changes of both name and persona over the decades and was in 1978 acquired by the Dare family, who are still the owners. The hotel was finally renamed ‘The Petersham Hotel’.
Contains many original features
Of the many alterations made to the hotel since its early days, the most visible externally is the extension built in the late ’50s. It occupies the ground floor on the side facing the river and forms what is now the award-winning restaurant. Internally, the hotel has been largely remodelled, but it still contains many original features. There is all the contemporary technology and amenity that any discerning guest might want; that includes, probably most importantly, the acceptable and expected complement of en-suite bathrooms – one per room, I am pleased to report.
The Petersham does deserve its 4 stars – and more. The dinner in the dining room is memorable (read my review here); and breakfast is classic, with waiter service and those same views that one couldn’t help noticing the night before. Richmond, from this vantage point, will seem a long way from central London, although there are great transport links via the Underground, and even Heathrow is a convenient hop away.
But guest does not live by food alone. There should be a bed somewhere! One might take the lift to one’s appointed floor, but take time, once the luggage is parked, to sweep down that aforementioned remarkable staircase, its walls and ceiling decorated with sumptuous and original oil paintings.
Our light and cosy nest
Our room had those magnificent views and a balcony with Victorian railings. One is somehow transported back to a gentler time of quality fabrics, wallpaper, furniture and service at the Petersham. It was all here in our light and cosy nest, along with that bed that was hard to leave and a TV that wasn’t. There are much better things to do here, like enjoying a glass of something chilled down on the terrace, or perhaps take a riverside stroll.
Yes, dear media-minded reader, there is wifi, so you can email your sister to say ‘you gotta stay here’. And she will thank you for that advice. This is the style of hotel for which one hopes. The accolade of 4 stars is sometimes an exaggeration of a hotel’s quality, or perhaps the polish has dulled since the last inspection visit, one wonders. The Petersham deserves its stellar award in every regard.
Phone: 020 8940 7471
Email: General enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org